Sunday, June 28, 2009

Truest statement of the week

Over at Hullaballoo Digby writes:
last night on The Daily Show, Jon Stewart did a nice little rundown on all the cases where the Obama administration’s promises of "transparency" and adherence to constitutional norms have turned out to be shall we say, a bit opaque.
There were those who saw the writing on the wall on these issues through the haze of hopenchange.

Yes Digby, you're absolutely correct.
That was us who saw the writing on the wall. They call us many things, including PUMAs, "bitter knitters," and the "last band of paranoid shrieking holdouts." We were supporters of Hillary Clinton and now we are Democrats in exile.
We weren't fooled by the fancy speechifying or the slick packaging and presentation. We said Obama was a conservative wolf in a progressive's empty suit. We were right and you were wrong. And WE TOLD YOU SO!

-- myiq2xu, "That was us" (The Confluence)

A note to our readers

Hey --

Another week.

Along with Dallas, here's who helped with the writing:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, and Ava,

Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,

Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,

C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,

Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),

Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,

Mike of Mikey Likes It!,

Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz,

Ann who's filling in for Ruth at Ruth's Report,

Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts,

Wally of The Daily Jot,


and Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends.

Illustration wise, the only new one by us would be the photo of the sun and two photos of Greg Rucka. Those were taken by Jess.

We thank everyone who worked on this edition.

What did we come up with?

Truest statement of the week -- We actually had plans to do two truests but ran out of time. So we went with just one, myiq2xu.

Editorial: Save us from the panty sniffers -- All the gossip prevents real news from being heard. However, if the gossip wasn't there, who knows what news we would be served? Regardless, we're getting tired of the tut-tutters on the left who are starting to sound a lot like the 'moralizers' on the right.

TV: Give till it hurts -- Two features we wrote for this edition fell apart. Ava and C.I. said they'd try to grab the topics and work them in. They managed to do it and then some. This is really a wild ride and Ava and C.I. have done something amazing here. I have a feeling this will rank among 2009's favorite pieces. They're addressing a new NBC show, Barry O, Monica Conyers, NOW and a host of other topics.

A Rucka, a Batwoman, a Zeus and a Heatwave -- Dona, Jess, Isaiah and Dallas wrote this article. Dona gets listed first because I'm engaged to her and this is my (Jim) note. So, except for Dallas, they flew out Friday to cover this Saturday event. They wrote two articles. The other one will run in Hilda's Mix. That one is more Rucka heavy. We really liked it and said we should run both but Dona pointed out that they really weren't seperate articles and that we needed to choose one or the other. We went with this one. And we thank Dallas, Isaiah, Jess and Dona for covering the story and writing the article.

Ty's Corner -- Ty wrote this. I'm in disagreement with him on a few things, mainly that last week was so bad. I do agree with him that Ava and C.I.'s participation in the writing would have meant a humor short story. I also think that's a glaring hole in last week's summer read. But I think the short stories are on the same basic level as each summer's offering. I think that a few of them are actually better. I also remember that we hate every summer read (short story) edition after we finish it. We read over it in a week or two and realize that it's not as awful as we think. That roughly a third didn't like it? Glad you shared if you didn't like it. (And longtime readers know that's not sarcasm.) I think Ty covers things well and honestly but I do strongly disagree that last week was a failure. (And Jess is saying, "Because if it was a failure, you'd be responsible since you insisted we do the summer read that week." Possibly.)

Be very, very scared -- Barry O was going to 'fix' the White House and country and now most know that the fix was always in. Now Barry O's going to 'fix' the Democratic Party primaries. Be very, very scared.

Winter Soldier covered by Free Speech Radio News -- If you missed this last week, you missed the best report on radio. (For those wondering, Friday's Democracy Now! had a feature that didn't work out. If you saw Friday's show, you know it was noteworthy.)

Unsolicited e-mails -- When we were looking over Ty's column, we started talking about e-mail issues and ended up writing this.

Question raised last week -- Short features, Dona always screams. Here's one.

Papuans being slaughtered -- from ETAN.

The Quota Queen's on her head -- a preview for next week. That's a story Ava and C.I. are working on. They didn't have anything written, just discussing it, but a number of e-mails have come in about next week's edition since we announced a few weeks back that Ava and C.I. would be steering it. So that's a taste.

Highlights -- Mike, Elaine, Rebecca, Betty, Kat, Cedric, Wally, Marcia and Stan wrote this and selected all highlights.

And that's the edition. There will be one next Sunday. You won't want to miss it.

-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.

Editorial: Save us from the panty sniffers

"Has anyone ever been so disingenuous? As we've noted in the past, Dear Rachel always has to pretend that she's embarrassed by the 'explicit' stuff -- the stuff she loves to pimp you.
What a consummate phony! In April, she spent more than a week insulting average people with her moronic dick jokes. Night after night, she found ways to pretend that she was embarrassed by all that too. [. . .] If we might add what is merely obvious: That's your Rhodes Scholar on Starr!," offered Bob Somerby last Thursday at The Daily Howler.

In the section we're quoting, he's examining the dreadful Rachel Maddow but he has time for the other MSNBC no-stars and more. And "That's your Rhodes Scholar on Starr!" is not only funny, it's accurate. Our primary issue is Iraq and, week after week, we see it fall further off the radar. Sometimes a story dominating the news cycle is actually worthwhile and we wish Iraq were in the mix but we're not shaking our heads and wondering, "Who the hell considers this news?"

Lately, we've been doing just that and a huge number of these 'news' stories are nothing but, to steal from Somerby, "panty sniffers." So, for example, a US Senator had an affair and it was 'news'. A US governor had an affair and it was 'news.' Endlessly. Both were Republicans, by the way, and that may explain the fixation. We know the name of the senator due to his time in the Senate. The governor? Nope. Does that give you an idea of how quickly we turn the page or the channel when that crap starts getting pimped as news?

When people obsess over the sex others are having, it honestly appalls us. We have to wonder if their own sex lives are so non-existant or awful that they only excitement they get is from being voyers? We also have to wonder if they're embracing some sort of 'Moral' Majority group-think? Breaking the law is news. A consensual affair, even when one is cheating, really isn't news.

Among the outlets flooding the zone last week with the sex garbage was The New York Times. Apparently the old grey lady needs to finger herself in public from time to time.

June 18th, US Ambassador to Iraq Chris Hill gave his first press conference in the United States and no one bothered to ask him about breaking his promise to immediately, within 24 hours of being confirmed, be on a plane to Iraq. Maybe they were too busy laughing at him?

"I think if you look at overall levels of violence in Iraq," he declared, "you’ll see an overall trending downward."

Are you laughing yet? In the last eight days, the violence hasn't stopped in Iraq. Bombings in Kirkuk and Baghdad alone have resulted in over 150 deaths.

You might say, "Well Hill couldn't have known that." If you're saying that, note this sentence, also from Hill's response, "So when you see the aggregate numbers put together by the U.S. military, you see there is an overall trending down."

If you're not laughing, you probably spent too much time sniffing panties in recent weeks. Hill's 'aggregate numbers' were in the press cycle briefly. June, the military was insisting, was actually less than May and April. Of course those numbers were released before the half-way mark for the month of June. Yeah, the military tried to pimp "lower violence" based on incomplete data and, yeah, a lot of press outlets ran with it.

Enough that Hill could reference that laughable data and not have anyone at the press conference call him out on it.

What should have bothered Americans was Hill's refusal to discuss "contingency plans" for Iraq should the (partial) pull-back from cities (June 30th) result in increased violence. "Well, again," he repeated, "I don’t want to discuss contingency plans." Why not?

And why aren't these contingency plans known to the American public?

Chris Hill

Very little about Iraq gets revealed to the American public. For example, no US outlet reported last week on the non-development regarding the de-de-Baathification process (but Arab media did report on it). Anthony Shadid's "In Iraq, a Different Struggle for Power" (Washington Post) last week, was an article worthy of praise and those are fewer and fewer. It was also a brave report though many may not have grapsed that because they're unaware of Nouri al-Maliki's continued assault on the press (including lawsuits over bad press).

You may not know any of those Iraq-related stories. You might, however, know all the details of two affairs. Unless you're one of the two having the affair or the spouse of the cheater, then you've just defined yourself as a panty sniffer and not a news hound.

TV: Give till it hurts

NBC debuted The Philanthropist in the best time slot possible last week, opposite the hour long infomercial ABC 'News' provided Barack Obama with -- at no cost, they're so very generous at ABC. Soon after Benjamin Toff (New York Times) reported that, not only did The Philanthropist beat Barack's Questions for the President--Everything But Why No Single-Payer, but it also nearly doubled the audience who tuned in for Barry O, news emerged that President Obama was flirting with signing an executive order to continue indefinite (and unconstitutional) detentions. [If you're late to the party, check out Cedric and Wally's posts.] Ourselves, we wondered if Barry had realized his rising star had peaked and, desperate for guest stars to share the stage with in his upcoming specials, figured it would be easiest to enlist them via presidential order?


We'll have to wait and see on what Barack's actually up to and some critics are of the opinion that audiences need to wait and see on The Philanthropist. The feeling is that the first episode moved so quickly that people may not know what they've seen. Never mistake the Water Cooler Set for a democratic, love-the-masses type crowd. If they couldn't stick their noses in the air, well, they might be forced to sniff their own stink.

While offering their presumption that the average TV viewer is a moron, they reveal how moronic they themselves are. Like a cat fascinated by a fast moving object viewed through a window, the critics were the ones dazed and confused. The Philanthropist told you everything you needed to know in its first episode.

For example, it's a physically ugly show. That's obvious from the start when a bartender is lit and filmed as if she's a retired hockey goalie while wardrobe's outfitted her as if she's listed on the menu under "Piece de ass." It's obvious when Neve Campbell (Olivia) is filmed at such weird angles that she looks like a bobble head -- and a tired one at that. It's a very ugly show and apparently the show moved "too fast" -- at least for the Water Cooler Set which didn't catch those details.

Peter Horton 'directed' but the editing was the only 'visual' the show had to offer. Otherwise, you had badly staged, badly lit, badly filmed scenes mixed in with post card 'art' of scenic locales. It was a very ugly looking debut.

As a diversion on a hot summer night, The Philanthropist is worth watching and we'd certainly recommend everyone catch it if only for Neve (third episode finds her doing the most in any of the first four episodes, just FYI). But we recommend you watch with a critical mind.

The show revolves around the billionaire Teddy Rist who runs the multi-national corporation Maidstone-Rist Company. Rist, played by Brit James Purefoy, is Olivia's ex-lover and . . . Not a great deal more is known. He looks good semi-naked. That was obvious in an early scene where a barely-there sheet cupped the groin of his otherwise exposed body. The show doesn't set out to tell you a great deal more about Teddy.

Except that he's good. And a billionaire. And a do-gooder. And he just wants to help. And he runs a multi-national corporation. And he's good.

Did we mention he's good?

The show comes off a lot like Wall Street Propaganda. Amazingly, as the economy has tanked, we have yet to see a show based on any of the many criminals but, while we get no Bernie Madoff series, NBC rushes in to establish that the heads of business are really sweethearts and live to serve the world a Coke and perfect harmony. Yes, that's the song they sing.

And that's why you need to watch with a critical mind.

If you do that, you might wonder why this NBC show, this American show, about a do-gooder, finds the do-gooder traveling all over the world?

The first episode finds him in Africa. Helping the poor. Because there are no poor in America? Or because the US corporations don't want you to think of the poverty in America? The victims of Hurricane Katrina won't make a blip on his radar, but he will travel to Paris, for example, to take on sexual trafficking.

In fact, the show seems to exist to lull away any (deserved) anger the average American might have towards the Wall Street types and convince them that all the problems in the world exist outside of the United States.

There's a smug aren't-we-perfect attitude about this show that's most obvious in the first and fourth episode when Teddy visits Nigeria apparently to argue that the best person to 'save' Africa is a White man.

Philanthropy is donating to a cause or charity. One can write a check, give time, donate property, you name it. In this country, public philanthropy has always been good p.r. for those with lousy ethics going back to at least the robber baron era. And philanthropy exists on many levels.

NOW, the National Organization for Women, is seeking philanthropists. So much so that they sent out an e-mail last week entitled "Special Offer: Join NOW, Get Ms." For a twenty-five dollar donation, you could become a member of NOW and also get a one-year subscription to Ms. magazine. $25 happens to be the cost (non-special offer) of subscribing to Ms. And, goodness, is it worth it! Take the latest issue which features 'noted' 'feminist' Donna Brazile explaining "Real Men Don't Hit." Oh, how the mighty have fallen and they, like the old TV commercial, apparently can't get up.

It takes really backward ass sexist trash like Donna Brazile to serve up an article entitled "Real Men Don't Hit." "Real Men"? Ms., the magazine that once existed to explode gender stereotypes, wants to offer the ultimate racial stereotype (that's all Brazile has become -- a closeted life will do that to a person) weighing in on what "real" men do and don't do? What's next? "You Have A Right Not To Be Hit"? Ms. was always a feminist primer that most graduate from quickly but these days Donna Brazile's apparently been brought in to cater to the special ed market.

The offer from NOW surprised us because we assumed, with all those mythical anti-choice Sarah Palin supporters allegedly taking over the organization, they'd be rolling in the dough. For that lie to have been true, NOW would have had to have added a ton of new members in 2008 and their coffers should be overflowing. But their coffers are bare and the rumor was a smear. Where there are smears, there is Ellie Smeal and she's willing to give NOW the entire $25 out of the goodness of her . . . own self-interest. She thinks the offer will allow her to retain control of the organization she's trying to rule. The recent election found the grass roots rejecting Ellie's hand-picked successor to her hand maiden (Kim Gandy). Ellie's on the outs and desperate to get back in. And at the point in the near future when the rumbles begin about Ms. yet again going belly up, it would be good if Ellie were asked to explain how turning Ms. into a freebie was a good business move for the magazine?

Sometimes you're not the donor, you're the recipient of philanthropy. The Nation magazine wants to give you $100 . . . off on their (underbooked) Nation Cruise if you book before July 1st. Hey, don't you want to play paddle tennis with Patti Williams? When not wanting to give you $100 off on their over-priced cruise, they spent last week repeatedly sending out one e-mail after another begging for money in what Katrina vanden Heuvel (editor, publisher and organ monkey) termed "these difficult financial times". Kind hard to picture Katty-van-van clipping the coupons and telling her husband he better go back to working for the Bush family or they'll lose their manse, right?

US House Rep John Conyers wants to make a philanthropist of you. For a fifty dollar donation to his re-election campaign, Conyers informed last week in "Single-payer health care: the cure for what ails us," he'll send you a t-shirt with "Single-payer" on it.

Some may doubt Conyers when he writes, "As you know, one of the central issues of my campaign for reelection is the importance of creating a single-payer health care system that ensures all Americans have access to high quality, affordable care." They might point out, for example, that the health care bill the White House wants is expected to go before Congress shortly and not after the 2010 elections.

Ourselves, we remember how Conyers promised, ahead of the 2006 elections, that Democratic control of Congress meant impeachment hearings. And then . . . they never happened. But, under pressure, he promised that impeachment hearings could take place after George W. Bush left office and George W. Bush left office and . . . Conyers did nothing. Maybe he's planning to impeach Bush posthumously? We do know that shortly after he sent out the e-mail, the news broke that Monica Conyers, his wife and member of the Detroit City Council, had copped a guilty plea over accepting bribes. With the extra free time on her hands, we would assume shipping out t-shirts should be a breeze.

Philanthropy works on the it's-better-to-give-than-to-receive bromide which always struck us as rather smug and the sort of trash talk a power-top gives a bottom before getting down to business. The Philanthropist works as a mindless diversion so long as you keep both eyes open and your guard up. Otherwise, you may find yourself calling your senators to voice your support for $700 billion more in handouts to bankers. If you're foolish enough to believe that the corporation known for polluting the Hudson River is airing this program for altruistic reasons, you probably shouldn't be watching.

A Rucka, a Batwoman, a Zeus and a Heatwave

"The thing that kills me is that I like you, Kate. I really do. You're smart, you're sexy, you've got a sense of humor, and you don't think fabrics begin and end with flannel. But it's pretty clear you're not interested in getting serious, and I'm way past playing the field," Anna declares in her break up speech to lover Kate in Detective Comics 854, released last week.

103, 104, Greg Rucka, Batwoman, new location, a lot of information coming your way all at once.


We were in Dallas, Texas where the heat easily hit 103 although two different radio stations were saying 104.

We were at Zeus Comics. Zeus Comics is a comic book store which sells comics, graphic novels, collectibles and action features. For many years, it was further north on Oak Lawn Avenue but it's now relocated to 4411 Lemmon Avenue in a shopping center with, among other things, a spa and a Wingstop. The move's biggest benefit it is loses the cutesy, white gazebo look (exterior of it's former location) and gains a lot more window space and natural lighting.

We were there for Kate. Kate is Batwoman and she's the new lead for Detective Comics, the comic Batman's led for years but don't ask Greg Rucka what year that started. (1939, for those who need to know.)

Greg Rucka

Greg Rucka is the comic book writer, graphic novel writer and novelist who's writing the Batwoman Reborn series for DC's Detective Comics. His work on Wonder Woman (October 2003 through February 2006) is legendary and blends the mythic with today as Diana's ethical system is repeatedly tested. A smart studio would forget Joss Whedon and ask Rucka to write the script for a Wonder Woman feature film. Feature film? A film based on his limited edition graphic novel Whiteout (art by Steve Lieber) storms theaters in September with Kate Beckinsale in the lead role.

Rucka is one member of the circle. The most important members of the circle are the audience. And we wondered who would turn up long before we encountered the triple digit heat?

The smart and/or lucky ones turned up early before the heat was nothing but a solid wall. The signing began a little after ten a.m. and continued through five p.m. The first hours found a larger crowd but there was a steady crowd throughout the day.

In the noon to two o'clock hours, those walking in would "glow" or sweat for a good ten minutes after entering the store despite the brief walk from the parking lot to the store -- it was just that hot outside.

What was everyone there for?

A huge crowd was there just for Greg Rucka. They were big fans who he'd picked up throughout his glorious career and there were strong factions who felt his strongest work was Whiteout, factions who felt his strongest work was Marvel's Black Widow, Daredevil and Daredevil & Elektra, and strong factions who felt he'd never top his work with Wonder Woman. Most of those had high hopes for Batwoman because, as Greg from Denton told us, "No one writes the female characters like Rucka."

Greg Rucka signing

Rucka has plenty of female fans in the region and they turned out as well. Easily a third of those attending the signing were women. (We're counting only adults. Some adults brought children with them and they were primarily boys; however, there was a seven-year-old blond girl.) This doesn't fit the cliche or stereotype of comic book readers; however, we'd argue that it's due not only to the fact that Rucka is known for his strong writing of strong female characters but also due to the fact that the cliche is outdated and was never that true to begin with.

There were also some women present who were present for Kate. They knew nothing about Detective Comics really; however, they had heard about Kate.

Kate's a lesbian.

DC tends to play it both ways, wanting the publicity and also stressing it's no big deal.

Jennifer from Dallas (Uptown) was there with her partner Rose. She was there because of coverage of Batwoman, "I wouldn't even know [about the signing] if it weren't for that. This is a big deal because who doesn't know Batman? And it's a character from this universe who is going to be front and center, starring in the comic, and she's gay. She [Rose] was worried this was going to be a Rawhide Kid like thing where the whole thing was a joke -- a snicker at the gay character kind of joke. So we went online to find out about him and then did a dry run here last week and got a collection of some of his Wonder Woman writing to really check him out. I wasn't able to make it here Wednesday [when the comic debuted] but Rose came in and bought two copies. We really liked it and really have strong hopes for the series."

Rose added, "I was glad the break up [with Anna] took place early on because I was afraid any reference to her sexuality would be missing in the first issue or buried at the end. Instead, it takes place right after the first panels of action with Kate as Batwoman. An this J.H. Williams III has really created an arresting image for Batwoman. I love the differences between Batwoman and Kate. That includes that Kate has pretty eyes but you don't see Batwoman's eyes. I also find the relationship with her father intriguing and Alice [the villain] really has me curious."

The coverage from LGBT local media and word of mouth meant that several attending the signing were either finding out about Zeus Comics for the first time or find out that it had moved to Lemmon Avenue. By their own disclosures, this was the group visiting for the first time.

George (Oak Lawn section of Dallas) says he visits at least once a week, "always saying I'm just looking but usually leaving with four titles," and that the relocation has actually allowed him to shop at Zeus more, "In the past, I'd go once a month if that. You've got to go up Oak Lawn, it was this big nightmare shopping center that you had to deal with and drive all the way through to the back of the shopping center. I just didn't care for it. This is easier and I'm passing it daily, driving from home to work."

Alex from Mesquite agreed and added that he normally comes in on Sundays, "Put that in anything you write because a lot of stores like this wouldn't be open on Sundays. Zeus is open from noon to six p.m. every Sunday and it's just a really relaxed day to come in and browse."

And why was he visiting on a Saturday? Rucka? "No, he's a good writer," Alex acknowledged, "but for me it's the Bat. I'm just a huge fan of the entire Bat family. Not so crazy about Red Robin but hoping it gets better. But Batman, Batgirl, Huntress, Robin, Night Wing, just anything with the Bat hooks me. And the fact that it's Batwoman? I probably would have put off coming until later today but Batwoman got me up and out of the house before ten."

Brenda (Oak Cliff section of Dallas) was there for Batwoman as well and made it really clear that she's among those readers who seek out storylines written by Rucka, "Carrie [lead character in Whiteout] was just always on the ball, she just radiated smarts and, in a Lois Lane universe, that's not very common. I'm really looking forward to the movie [Whiteout] and I'm really looking forward to this [Detective Comics]. Batwoman's been a long time coming. Everyone else comes back. The library has a DC book published in the seventies and that's where I learned of Batwoman and Batgirl, the originals. So it's about time they revisited her. And I can't think of a writer better to handle her. The origins come in issues four through six and I'm really looking forward to that."

Brenda is a self-described "comics nut" and you could detect them quickly when conversing because they were the ones who knew all the ins-and-outs and had the details about what was coming up: the origin story getting dropped into the middle of the 12 issue run, the supporting feature getting more pages in up coming issues, a potential cross-over between it and Batwoman's story since the two leads are former lovers, and more.

"Yeah, I like to know as much as possible before reading, all the gossip," agreed Hal. "That really doesn't hurt my enjoyment. I mean, it's not like a spoiler and -- if you really think about it, I mean, spoiler? Announcing a character's death on the cover of an issue would be a spoiler but they do that all the time at DC and Marvel, don't they? Getting the gossip just really fills in the fun between issues, you know."

Hal lives in East Dallas with Missy who wanted it made clear that she was not "a tag along. I'm here more than he is. Hal's got five titles he follows religiously and it's very difficult to get him to read anything else. I read two religiously -- Wonder Woman and The Amazing Spiderman but if Miss America stays strong, I might add three. Otherwise, I check in and out. I'll follow a title for three to five issues and then grow bored with it and move on. Hal buys five titles a month, I usually buy about twenty-five. And I come in here and just look through everything all the time while Hal comes in, runs right to the new issues, grabs his titles and is ready to go."

And how long would she follow Detective Comics?

"I'll keep the autographed issue forever," she replied, as she flipped through. "But look at the drawing of this panel and these colors. If the next issue is anywhere as solid visually, I could easily add this to the don't-miss list."

David (downtown Dallas) wanted to ask first if we'd heard that a street in McKinney had buckled from the heat? We hadn't. (McKinney and Plano are to the north of Dallas.) He was one of the latecomers showing up in the final hour.

Asked what brought him out in the heat, he paused a moment before explaining, "I like Greg Rucka but that's not it. Zeus is a really cool store and they've got this new location and when you pay with your credit card, they have to get the approval online and you can hear their computer dialing up because, I guess, they don't have broadband. And stores are closing all over Dallas. Even in this area. They lost their bookstore and the store just sits empty, month after month. Tower [Records], further down the street, closed like two or so years ago and that store still sits there empty. I think it's great that they got Rucka to come to the store and I'm glad they've got so many people here but I really just came to show some support for Zeus."

And though most people we spoke with cited Rucka first as their reason for being there, there were a large number of people explaining as a second or third reason, or as an aside, that they were there just for Zeus.

"This is really a great store," Candice (Oak Lawn) told us pointing to various areas. "And they do really great things. I think it was fifty cents, the price, a few weeks back where they had a big sale on backlog and I just loved that. I was telling my dad that and he said, 'Comics cost fifty cents when I bought them.' Yeah, well, it's not the Pioneer Days, Dad. You're generally paying $3.99 before taxes on new comics today. So a sale like that is really appreciated and it allowed me to grab some issues I'd missed in the last months because I just didn't have the cash. And the staff is really nice. I found this store while doing my evening walk. It was a Saturday back in April and it was probably a few minutes before seven o'clock. I see it and I go running in. I'm grabbing comics like crazy and looking around. And then this woman comes in and says something to the guy behind the counter about how they need to be leaving for the party. I walk over and ask when they close? They closed about fifteen minutes before. I quickly paid and also apologized but they were cool about it and that's not generally the case at stores. Usually someone announces over a speaker or comes up to you and says, 'We're closing in five minutes.' I spend more money here than I should -- and now only bring cash to avoid maxing out my credit card which I could easily do in one trip here -- but I tell myself that it's a good cause because this is a great store."

And we'd agree with that and add that it was a great crowd turning out for the signing. We weren't sure what to expect but just knew, just knew, that, with an all day signing, there would be periods where no one was in the store or, if they were in the store, they weren't waiting to get anything signed and were instead looking at the merchandise. That was not the case. A steady, never-ending flow of people turned out to meet Greg Rucka who was kind enough to take pictures with anyone who asked (his assistant would snap the photos -- the photos of Rucka in this article were taken by our own Jess).

If you're in doubt as to how anyone could draw a crowd for seven hours of a triple-digit-heat day, check out Detective Comics 854 on sale now.

Batwoman autographed

[This article was written by Dallas, Dona, Jess and Isaiah. Photos of Greg Rucka were taken by Jess.]

Ty's Corner


I haven't done a corner in a bit but this week requires one for two reasons: last week's edition and a report this week.

Last week was our summer fiction read. We got a record number of e-mails, clearly the most of any our five summer fiction reads.

Some enjoyed a story or many of the stories or all of the stories and, if there's time, I'll note some of that. However, at least 30% of the e-mails were from people who loathed it. Loathed, hated, detested.

After Mike revealed (Monday) that Ava and C.I. really didn't work on the issue, a fresh wave of anger came in insisting that was why the edition "sucked" (a popular term but used 35 times in a single e-mail by regular reader Jonas).

Why did the edition "suck"?

It may have sucked, it may not. The reality is that we were supposed to have done it two weeks ago and were actually ready. (Jim's June 14th note: "As the never ending writing edition produced one failure that couldn't be saved after another -- and as Ava and C.I. pointed out that this was supposed to be our summer fiction edition . . . . Our summer fiction edition? Yeah. But we were convinced that there was too much news needing coverage.") That included Ava and C.I. planning to write of the Letterman controversy in a fictional manner to fit the theme.

That didn't happen. And as was noted, Ava and C.I. were ticked off. They did not, however, boycott last week's edition as a number of readers seem to feel.

This is probably a good time to note this week's report. It's by Dallas, Dona, Isaiah and Jess. (Alphabetical order, "A Rucka, a Batwoman, a Zeus and a Heatwave.") This is the one we told you was coming back in May, that there would be travel for. Dallas remained in Dallas, Texas the others traveled to Dallas. (All flew to C.I.'s house here in California Saturday night.) [Added by Ty 6-29-09, drive-bys are asking when were they told about the planned feature? Repeatedly including in a solo piece Jim wrote entitled "Jim's World."]

As most readers know, C.I. and Ava (of this site and C.I., of course, also does The Common Ills) and Elaine (of Like Maria Said Paz) are past ready to end online life. C.I. hoped to shut things down right after the 2008 election. Because Stan wanted to start a site but didn't want to be starting it just as everyone else was closing down, C.I. agreed to go for another six months. Elaine has said she shuts down when The Common Ills goes dark, C.I. is only agreeing to six months at a time. April ended the first six months renewal and C.I.'s question here was what were we going to do that would justify continuing? Were we going to do anything new?

In March and April, we were discussing that. At some point, Dallas mentioned that Greg Rucka was coming to his area (Dallas, Texas) for a signing. It meant nothing to Jim, who was talking with Dallas on the phone about other issues, but he mentioned it to Jess, Dona and myself. Like Jim, I drew a blank.

Jess and Dona knew his work. They were big fans. Greg Rucka writes in many formats but, among those formats is comic books, and Jess and Dona knew his Daredevil and Wonder Woman work. Jess was on the phone with Ava (Ava's on the road with C.I., Kat and Wally each week speaking out against the illegal war) and she said, "Uh, ask Dona about her secret stash." Jess did and Dona pulled out every Greg Rucka Wonder Woman issue.

He did, she showed it, they rushed to phone Dallas who told him he'd mentioned it to Isaiah who'd decided to attend. So they were all going to attend and they thought, "We could write about this."

Dona and Jess presented that over a Saturday dinner here (present were Kat, Jim, Dona, Jess, Ava, C.I., Betty, Betty's kids and myself) and it quickly became, "Why don't we cover comics?"

The reason TV is covered every week is because Jim fought for it. There wasn't a lot of interest that first weekend and Ava and C.I. were dead set against it. But Jim insisted that college students logged a lot of TV hours and we had to cover it if we were going to be serving a college audience. That was our original goal. And originally, we wrote the TV pieces as a group effort but, by week three or four, we'd turned it over to Ava and C.I. So why didn't we cover comics?

Anytime we'd done any feature article that was about or even just mentioned comics, we got positive e-mails from regular readers.

And that soon became, "Okay, this is one thing we can do that we haven't been doing."

And the plan was that we'd begin to increase our comic book coverage and that would lead up to this week's article.

This factors into the summer read. It was supposed to be two weeks ago. Due to events in the news cycle, Jim insisted we couldn't do a summer fiction read. He said too much was going on which led to a loud argument of how things are always going on and that point is raised every week. But Jim was adamant and stuck to it. For various reasons, last week wasn't good for the summer read. And, due to the article that Dona, Jess, Dallas and Isaiah had planned for this week, the summer read really shouldn't be done now because it could be confusing (I'll come back to confusing) for readers if it ran in the fiction edition. ("Wait, did this really happen, or was it a short story?")

Jim was saying it would take place in July and no way on that. There are too many who believe it should come early in June (too many readers) and they start writing in May of each year. If we put it off to July, then I was going to need a lot of help with the e-mails. (E-mail address is

Last Sunday, there was no understanding or agreement that it was going to be the summer fiction read. Jim announced that in the pitch session we do before we start writing. (The pitch session may be preceded by a pre-pitch session involving just Third. The pitch session proper includes all participating in the writing via conference call.)

Right away, Ava and C.I. hit the roof. They pointed out that no one had thought about it all week so there were no prepared ideas coming in and that idea prepared for the week before may be stale now or the enthusiasm gone. Most importantly, next week (that would be today), the feature article by Isaiah, Dallas, Jess and Dona would run and we'd done nothing to prepare for it.

That was a point they'd regularly brought up in the last weeks. One week, Isaiah worked with us all night/morning for a feature we were supposed to do but that Jim decided we wouldn't because there wasn't time. That feature was on comics and was part of our new efforts to highlight comics.

This blocked off section is added by Ty 6-29-09 because drive-bys are saying, "What? I missed it?"

And ran May 17th, "Where is the love?" -- Mike noted it was junked from the May 10th edition where it was supposed to run and where it would fit and he notes Ava and C.I. were furious because Isaiah had worked with us all night solely for that future and he covers Jim's response the next day -- and Jim explains in his May 17th note that this is the article. C.I. was still bothered enough by it to write about it on May 11th:

On not being in the mood yesterday, Mike's already called and you can read his site tonight. He's going to write about some of the issues during the latest edition and my problem was and is, if people are preparing a report and we need to do a rollout, we do one. There was a short feature that was either completed or would have taken two seconds to complete that got killed and may run next week but it is part of a rollout for a feature Dona, Jess, Isaiah and Dallas will be writing next month. It's also part of a new focus we'll be doing at Third. I'm not mad at anyone (including Jim) but I did think it was incredibly rude to have had Isaiah participating ALL NIGHT during the writing edition when the only reason he was participating was for the feature that got killed. (Isaiah asked that his name not be listed in Jim's note to the readers, lest anyone think he's been forgotten.) On Ava and my end, we were talking to friends working on Fringe when they mentioned something that we worked into one sentence and did so because it was part of what we thought was the rollout for the upcoming article and for part of Third's new focus. It's a funny line so it's fine that's it's still in there but it was supposed to be part of a focus that didn't happen. Mike'll go into this at length tonight. He didn't ask (maybe because he knew) so I'll note this here. We're going through next November. We may go past that, but we made the decision to go through November. Elaine, Ava and I want to bail, we're tired of it. Others wanted to continue so we'll do another six months or so. My one request was that, for Third, we think of one thing we're not doing that we could be doing to make it worth six more months. I tossed that out two weeks ago and Dona, Ty and Jess came up with an emphasis which I think is a good one (and has been hugely popular the other times we've accidentally stumbled upon it). That new thing being brought in is part of the story Dona, Jess, Dallas and Isaiah will be doing. And three of them will have to fly somewhere for this story. I think it's an interesting story, I think it's a new element, I'm looking foward to seeing the photos and reading the copy.

That's what you missed.

We have done that here but not in the way that we wanted.

Last week's most popular feature was, as always, Ava and C.I. ("TV: Fiction"). The next four most popular were:

The curse
Hey there! Marilyn Monroe is using Twitter.
Clooney's Dark Secrets
Summer reads

The Clooney short story resulted in some strange e-mails. But the final of the four ("Summer reads") was what Ava and C.I. devoted their time to.

They did not work on the writing of any of the short stories. They were sounding boards and offered feedback that was utilized. But they focused on "Summer reads."

That's the article on comic books.

And Ava and C.I. made it clear last weekend -- when Jim sprung the, "We're doing the short story edition this week!" -- that something on comics, anything on comics, needed to be written. It had to be because we'd done very little to lead into the article that runs here despite the fact that every week we were supposed to be doing something.

Ava and C.I. phoned a friend who has a comics store and got him to open it at ten at night. They went over and bought over $300 worth of new comics. They spent the night reading through all of those comics to select ten out that were worth highlighting. They then brought the ten to the rest of us before we started writing. No Hero made the top ten list and is Mike's personal favorite. We were all supposed to be reading at least one comic in the last months and Mike is the only one who did. He focused on No Hero.

When Ava and C.I. pitched the ten, they explained nine titles and turned over to Mike for No Hero.

We then selected five from the ten and wrote up our feature (with Ava and C.I. working on it and, as I remember it, their big contribution was noting the S&M in a comic -- paddling of a male -- and insisting that The Infinite Horizon come after it because it featured a shirtless male and would work well with that -- e-mails prove they were right).

They were not boycotting. They were working very hard to do what was supposed to be happening every week.

Mike's been very vocal about the failure to do what we'd planned as has Stan and so, in an effort to raise the profile community wide on comics, they proposed comics for the Tuesday night theme posts: "DMZ: The Hidden War," "gordon brown, wonder woman," "Naoki Urasawa's Monster," "Re-Gifters," "G.B. Trudeau Talk to the Hand!," "Heroes Volume Two," "Mark Evanier's Mad Art" and "Warren Ellis' No Hero, ACLU."

If there was a mistake, in my opinion, about last week's edition in terms of the writing, it was that we all participated in "Summer reads." That should have just been Ava, C.I. and Mike. Their presentation of the ten was better than the article produced and that will happen when people writing don't know what they're writing about (one of the fingers I'm pointing is pointing at me). They were not boycotting the edition, Ava and C.I., they were shopping for comics, then reading all of those comics and then doing the presentation (with Mike grabbing No Hero).

If you didn't like the short stories offered last week, you didn't like them. I haven't argued with any regular reader who e-mailed to say that (and about 30% of the e-mails from regular readers loathed last week's short stories). Some of you enjoyed them (or at least wrote that you did).

I don't think it was our strongest and I think that's due to a number of reasons including that we didn't have C.I. and Ava helping. Had C.I. and Ava helped, you would have, for example, had a humorous short story. Those have always been popular in the past. We came close to that with Clooney and Jess and Rebecca were proposing a humorous short story that we didn't have time for.

Some things work on a personal level. (The short story "The literary ranter" is based on someone Jim, Dona, Jess, Ava and I had in our classes back in New York. And that person is captured perfectly.) Some things work as a writing exercise. Possibly doing writing exercises hurt the quality? If so, that's the readers' fault because the biggest complaint about previous fiction editions has tended to be that it was all first person narratives.

The Clooney short story resulted in e-mails which resulted in angry e-mails from me. These weren't regular readers and they had this idea that we were saying George Clooney really did all of that. I would reply asking them what world they lived in where they couldn't surf around the site to see that it was a fiction edition and that Clooney wasn't a mutant and his father wasn't a numbat?

Replies revealed that these readers were outside of the United States, living in countries where English wasn't the primary language and they'd apparently picked up the short story from a feed on George Clooney and then used an online free translation service to translate the article into their own languages.

Clearly lost in translation.

I don't apologize for the anger in my replies because if you're reading something written in a language you don't understand, don't start an e-mail by shouting and accusing people of things. That's basic. I don't read Spanish and if I stumbled across a Spanish site and was offended by a mechanical translation (this assumes I didn't ask Ava or C.I. to translate it for me -- they both speak and read Spanish), I wouldn't fire off an angry e-mail accusing people of things. I'd write, "I'm not following this, is it a language issue?" Or I'd not write at all.

If anyone's offended (I exchanged repeated e-mails with about thirty people on this last week), too bad.

I found the e-mails offensive. If it's not clear, these were written by devoted Clooney fans. He's got a crazy bunch of fans.

To those regular readers who enjoyed the short stories, thank you. To those who didn't, I'm not going to argue with you. I don't think it was our strongest and I've outlined some of the reasons for that above. I do not, however, believe we failed because Ava and C.I. weren't participating in the group writing per se. They add a great deal and I don't deny that and I readily admit that they would have ensured we had a very funny short story (as we usually do) -- either by siding with Rebecca and Jess or by proposing another topic. But it was weak not because they didn't help but because it was supposed to take place the week before.

Ava and C.I. rightly noted, when Jim declared "Short story edition!," that some ideas might be stale now and that was true because people came in the week prior all excited. Cedric and Wally had a sci-fi idea that week, they really weren't in the mood to pitch it because it had cooled off for them. Betty worked like crazy and give her and Jess credit for last week being done at all. They worked like crazy asking questions about plot and keeping spirits up. But, to use Betty as an example, even she wasn't keen on an idea she had for the originally scheduled summer read. She couldn't get the enthusiasm back up for that. But she did come up with many ideas and keep us focused.

One positive note in the e-mails on the summer read edition was the illustrations. People enjoyed them. (Even the Clooney fan club enjoyed their Clooney drawing. Although some wrongly wrote that it was a "photo.") They really were great and we thank Betty's kids, Isaiah, Kat, Wally and C.I. for the work they did. Some readers (such as Noah) who were less than thrilled with the writing, felt that was due to our increased visuals and that "next year, I know you'll nail it." Noah, if we're still publishing next year, we'll see but I appreciate your faith in us.

Be very, very scared


The Democratic Party honchos took time out of begging for more money to continue Bully Boy Bush policies last week in order to announce "The Democratic Change Commission." Party hack Jonah swung-it-to-sell-it on the official Democratic Party website. He opens by declaring, "Following the Democratic Presidential primaries and caucuses of the 2008 presidential nominating campaign the Democratic National Convention Rules Committee, at the request of then Senator Obama, drafted a resolution calling for a commission to review and recommend changes to the 2012 nominating process."

Though no one with the scars and wounds from the 2008 Democratic Party primaries could deny that something needs to be done, the notion that anything will be done to improve the process fades quickly as you grasp that not only is it called "Democratic Change Commission" (Barack's giving "change" such a bad name that you have to wonder if it's one of the words that will be banished at the end of 2008?) but it's also led by Claire McCaskill and James Clyburn. Both co-chairs are Bama Boosters and Claire's famous for the very public snub of Hillary Clinton before the cameras while James is famous for telling one lie after another and non-stop attacks on the Clintons. The idea that either wants to reform the process is laughable.

What reform is needed?

Since 2005, we've argued that Iowa (a) doesn't need to be the start of the season, (b) needs to be open and accountable (the official tally is never released -- by the Democrats, the GOP releases their own official tally) and (c) needs to change to a primary.

Iowa is rife with fraud every year. Dan Savage revealed how easy (in 2004) it was to participate in the caucuses despite not being a resident of Iowa. The process is rigged and the winner of the 'caucus' is always whomever gets the most volunteers shipped into that state.

Real reform would mean Iowa switching to a primary.

On the subject of caucuses, the "Texas two-step" should be dropped as well. Hillary won the Texas primary but Barack got more delegates due to caucus fraud. Caucuses are rife with fraud and no one votes in a general election for president by caucusing. Caucuses need to be ended and everyone needs to switch to the secret ballot. Each state's determining of a party nominee needs to match the process for the general election.

A long needed fix is rotating the primary schedule. We've advocated that since 2005 and were proven correct in 2008 when some states were allowed to move up their primaries (New Hampshire) without penalty and other states weren't (Florida and Michigan). Like the presidential elections, the Olympics come around every four years. The Democrats letting Iowa kick off each cycle would be like the Olympics allowing one country to forever host the games.

Fair is fair and it is past time that the primary process was put on a rotating schedule.

The party maintains:

The Democratic Change Commission will address three issues: 1) changing the window of time during which primaries and caucuses may be held 2) reducing the number of superdelegates and 3) improving the caucus system.

Considering that Bama stacked commission, the three 'issues' don't appear to be about helping the party members are the process. Number two, the superdelegates, is the best example.

The superdelegates, if they'd done the role they were created for, could have stopped the theft at the convention or before. But they refused to. Having pushed them around throughout 2008, Team Bama now wants to reduce them. No surprise there. And not a lot of sympathy from us because they refused to do their duty in 2008.

Winter Soldier covered by Free Speech Radio News

Thursday, June 25th, Free Speech Radio News featured a report on the latest Winter Soldier by Iraq Veterans Against the War. Click here to go directly to the segment. It's the must-listen radio moment for last week. Transcript below and illustrations of Ryan Endicott, Christopher Gallagher and Devon Read are Isaiah and Kat's which we used previously in " Winter Soldier Southwest."

Manuel Rueda: At home Iraq Veterans Against the War, a grassroots organization of vets opposed to US wars, continues to organize Winter Soldier hearings across the country. It´s a venue where veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan can tell stories from their war days, in a venue where veterans can tell stories from their war days in an environment that's safe and supportive. Leo Paz reports from Los Angeles.

Leo Paz: Ryan Endicott is a former Marine Corporal who did multiple tours in Iraq and returned to the US in 2006. He talked about what it's like for US marines to enforce martial law in a foreign country.

Ryan Endicott

Ryan Endicott: Young boys 18 to 22 are having martial law over a group of people. It's complete oppression and it actually borders on the line of terrorism. I mean you strap dead bodies to your Humvee and drive around a city with it, that's terrorism. That's scaring a group of people into your beliefs -- into your belief system and structure and that's exactly what we're doing, we're terrorizing them.

Leo Paz: Corporal Endicott who was in Ar Ramadi, Iraq says these were not isolated incidents but daily occurrences.

Ryan Endicott: Every single day, every time you kick in a door and drag a man out of his bed in the middle of the night, that's terrorism. That's not -- we're not saving people that's not liberation. You don't liberate people by -- by kicking in their doors in and arresting people by mass numbers by shooting them that's not liberation, that's occupation.

Leo Paz: Some of the soldiers recalled the harsh treatment of Iraqi civilians stopped at the numerous checkpoints installed by the US throughout the country. Former Marine Corporal Christopher Gallagher compared the checkpoints in Haditha and Falluja to herding cattle.

Christopher Gallagher

Christopher Gallagher: If any Iraqis voiced their opinion for the way they were being treated the Iraqi police -- we had a checkpoint -- would handle the situation by harassing and assaulting them.

Leo Paz: According to Gallagher when the US military went door to door in the middle of the night, raiding homes to eliminate any resistance to the occupation, Iraqis held massive protests. Gallagher described the typical US response to this protest.

Christopher Gallagher: In 2004 the Iraqis would hold protests in the town of Haditha against the occupation typical response for this was to have fighter jets fly over the crowd and scare them away.

Leo Paz: Corporal Endicott questioned the sanitized version of war portrayed in mainstream American media.

Ryan Endicott: What should be on the media is the thousands of doors that are kicked in every day and the thousands of people that are terrorized by the US soldiers that are pumped up on adrenaline and just looking to kill people. I mean there's plenty of people that joined the military just to kill people.

Leo Paz: Endicott is one of many vets who denounced the indiscriminate shooting of civilians by US military. Devon Read a former Marine infantry Sgt who took part in the invasion of Iraq in 2003 saw comrades anxious to fire at whatever came in their path. He told people at winter soldier about driving through Nazaria, speeding on the way to Baghdad, on the back of a Humvee and Marines in his unit shooting randomly at people in houses.

Devon Read

Devon Read: You know, none of the grunts that wanted to shoot people really cared about that. If it was an opportunity to shoot someone, they'd be shooting. So there's two of us on my side of the vehicle and three guys on the other side of the vehicle and we're facing outboard and suddenly the guys on the other side of the vehicle start shooting and I'm curious what the heck they're shooting at but I can't really look because I'm paying attention to my side and the other guy that's with me decides to switch sides, switches over to the other side and starts shooting also. And I finally take a moment to look and I'm looking and they're all just shooting wildly.

Leo Paz: Sgt. Reed was appalled by the random gunfire and wondered how many civilians had been shot by US troops that day.

Devon Read: There's, you know, people in windows way off in the distance, who really knows? Plenty of civilians with their -- poking their heads out of the window but its just someone to shoot at and there's shooting going on so no one's going to ask any questions if they start pulling the trigger too. So everyone starts shooting randomly and I talk to everyone after and none of them had any idea what they were shooting at or why.

Leo Paz: Many Vietnam war vets showed up to support the IVAW and the Iraq veterans in denouncing war and violence. Ed Garza an army gunner with the 173rd airborne Brigade still has nightmares forty years after the war.

Ed Garza: I remember the dead bodies and I remember seeing them and I remember we used to kill the Vietnamese and we'd put our patch on them To remind the other Vietnamese in the area that uh that we were there, the 173rd airborne. So those are some of the things I remember.

Leo Paz: According to a study conducted by Iraqi doctors, and published in a British medical journal, Iraqi dead are in the hundreds of thousands since the US invasion in 2003, Afghan civilians are estimated at more than 10,000 dead. Now into the 8th year of the war, more than 5,000 soldiers have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan according to the US military. Leo Paz, FSRN.

Unsolicited e-mails

Each week we get requests ( that we highlight this or that.

We try to work in what we can.

But to help everyone out, we'll try clarifying one more time.

We're a site for the left.

So something from ETAN will get highlighted with no problem.

If we don't know you or of you, we'll try to give you the benefit of the doubt.

A number of right-wing outlets e-mail for highlights. In fact, we get repeated e-mails daily on that. We're a site for the left. But we will try to include a link when we can fit it in.

So, for example, check out Net Right Daily for the right-wing take on the day's news.

There are some things we're never interested in.

We're not interested in racist, homophobic or sexist articles, blog posts or events.

We are not interested in highlights that go against our basic premises.

For example, in 2007, Betty staked out the position of this site and this community: Barack Obama is not Black. Barack is bi-racial and he claimed that identity as late as this decade. Following his defeat when he attempted to challenge Bobby Rush, he suddenly became "Black." He's not Black, he's bi-racial. Most of the left may be willing to turn the clock backwards on strides made in diversity, but we're not.

Don't send us your stuff about Barack being Black. We're not interested. He's not. We don't knowingly repeat or highlight lies.

We're not interested in your attacks on Sarah Palin. Funny us, we didn't think it was humorous when you were writing little 'skits' of Hillary in bed when she was attempting to garner the Democratic Party's presidential nomination. We didn't appreciate your efforts to sexualize her. We're not interested in your efforts with Sarah Palin.

We're honestly embarrassed and ashamed of you and think, that like Michael Winship, you need to get over your sexual obsession with Sarah Palin. Not only does it creep us out, it blinds you to anything of value you might be able to say.

Let's stay with sex for a moment. We're really not interested in your garbage on Eliott Spitzer and have never been interested in it. Our position from the start was that a scandal was being used to 'assassinate' Spitzer who was a threat to runaway corporations. We said that then and ignored all the scandal copy produced. We continue to ignore it. If we were married to Spitzer, we might have an opinion on the issue. We're not and we're not interested in crawling through the dirty sheets with a bunch of pervs who should honestly try to get lives of their own.

We're interested in sexual hypocrisy. Meaning, a homophobic politician preaching the joys of same-sex fidelity caught in an affair with someone (same or opposite sex) might interest us for the juxtaposition aspect. Otherwise, we're not interested in crawling around dirty sheets with you. If that's your bag, well that says a lot about you, now doesn't it?

Ourselves we're not sexaully frustrated and don't need to obsess over the sex lives of others.

Moving along, we do not open attachments. That's true of all sites in this community.

We repeatedly wrote back last week asking for alternative e-mails and we're not doing that again. If you're silly enough to think any stranger would open your attachement, you really don't rate a reply of any kind.

If you think we have time for online chats, you're also mistaken. We don't. We spend less and less time online. There are very few sites worth reading anymore. Why? They drank the Kool-Aid and even though they're slowing awakening to the truth, it doesn't thrill us to watch them attempt to reposition themselves and pretend they weren't blindly cheerleading Barack for over a year. We don't go online to chat. We go online to read websites (non news-outlets) less and less. One exception is the ACLU's blog. We've all increased our visits to that site.

Lastly, if you're a blogger, and especially if you're considering packing it in, do not write us after you do so to complain that we never gave you a link. Assume we didn't know of you and e-mail us to ask for a link. We do try to work in links requested and actually manage to do so in many cases. It might mean that someone tosses out three things and the fourth one gets noted, but we do try to. The reasons it's not every time include: (1) we completely disagree with what you've written, (2) we loved what you wrote but (a) felt it was best for an article addressing that topic (b) which we wrote but (c) felt our article was trash and not worth publishing online. Two bloggers packed it in and we heard from them last week. No one would link to them. They were writing with no audience. Or that's how they felt. Had we heard from them before they decided to retire or quit and they asked for a link we would have tried to provide one.

The e-mail address is

Question raised last week

If an angel gets their wings every time a bell rings, does a devil get an ulcer every time a pedophile dies?

Papuans being slaughtered

Sent in to the public e-mail account (

West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) Statement on Sweep Operation in Puncak Jaya

Contact: Ed McWilliams, +1-575-648-2078
Octo Mote, +1-203-520-3055

June 22 - Disturbing information has reached WPAT from a variety of sources of a very serious situation now transpiring in Puncak Jaya, West Papua. A "sweep operation,' reportedly carried out by Indonesia's mobilized police or "Brimob," has killed several Papuans and led to the death of others. People's homes have been raided and burned and farm animals killed. Hundreds of Papuans have been forced from homes and have sought refuge in surrounding forests where some have already died due to a lack of food, shelter and access to medical care. Reportedly, seven young girls were taken hostage and raped. At least five villages are believed affected, but the military has also raided houses in Mulia, the Puncak Jaya district capital.

"Security" operations have been conduced in the Puncak Jaya district since April of this year though it appears these operations have broadened and become more violent since then.

In recent years similar "sweeps" conducted by the military, also lasting for months, have led to the death of hundreds of civilians displaced by the operations.

According to our information, West Papuans are falling victim to
rivalries among several different security forces of the army and the police in the area. They are deliberately provoking local resistance groups to engage in armed activities, perhaps as a way to ensure that the security forces continue to be well funded. This contradicts the decision by all West Papuan resistance groups to refrain from acts of violence and to focus on seeking dialogue with the authorities in Jakarta. The groups believe that this is the best way of reaching a solution to the many West Papuan grievances accumulated since their unlawful, coerced integration within the Indonesian Republic in 1969.

It is difficult to get a clear picture of recent events because of long-standing restrictions on travel to and within West Papua imposed by the Indonesian government and security forces as part of their occupation strategy.

We urge the U.S. Government and the international community to demand the following:

... an immediate cessation of the ongoing operations in the central highlands;

... full access to the affected region by Indonesian and international
humanitarian and human rights organizations to assist the besieged
civilian population, as well as by journalists;

... and an investigation by the Indonesian Human Rights Commission (Komnas Ham) to determine who authorized and is leading the current operation.

The Quota Queen's on her head

Quota Queen. Gloria Steinem popularized the term Queen Bee to the point that it's in frequent use (as well as misuse) but Quota Queen?

A Quota Queen is a woman who's installed to provide cover for an organization that practices sexism. The Quota Queen exists so that the organization can point to her and say, "See, we support women's issues and women. She works for us."

The Quota Queen smiles brightly and no one's supposed to ask any pesky questions.

Meet Janine Jackson of FAIR, CounterSpin and Extra! -- the ultimate Quota Queen. She exists solely to cover for FAIR's inability to hire or promote women.

Quota Queen Janine Jackson read off a news 'critique' she found pithy on a CounterSpin episode broadcast June 19th: "One of the reasons some people think media sexism is largely a thing of the past is that they only look for certain kinds -- like demeaning treatment of women politicians. Not that that can't be found, but that overlooks the garden variety bias that can frankly permeate other kinds of coverage. Take, for instance, The Los Angeles Times, who as part of their coverage of a Comic-Con convention in San Diego, published a 'guide for girls' about the event. As noted by blogger Charlie Jane Anders, the feature starts out by assuring readers that, contrary to what you might think, the series of science fiction panels and events 'is not just for nerdy guys anymore. And it's not all just about the influx of squealing Twilight girls, either.' Yes, gee, in 2009, it is true that girls, too, are interested in this entire genre of entertainment, and, no, their interest isn't limited to squealing. But the piece goes on to emphasize which male stars will be at the convention for girls to admire, noting for example that 'Women will be rushing the stage, offering to do star Jake Gyllenhaal's laundry on those washboard abs that he acquired for the film Prince of Persia, since he spends much of it fighting, shirtless or both.' Okay, we get it. Or as Anders sums up: 'So girls, don't be intimidated by Comic-Con -- you can do Jake Gyllenhaal's laundry!' Silly? Sure. Also insulting. Ah, dumb stereotypes -- how can we miss them if they won't go away?"

As we noted last week, Quota Queen Janine was only suddenly stumbling upon sexism because so-called watchdog FAIR -- in all its forms -- hadn't called out David Letterman's rape 'joke,' didn't plan on calling it out and Janine was on the defensive. So she read her bad item. [How many times can you use "that" in one sentence? Janine can use the word four times in one sentence: "Not that that can't be found, but that overlooks the garden variety bias that can frankly permeate other kinds of coverage." Take "that," Janine.]

As telling as what she said was, what she didn't say was even more so. . . .


The above is a teaser for next week's edition. Ava and C.I. wrote the above and they are steering the Independence Day edition (published next Sunday, July 5th, not Fourth) and it's going to be something to read.

Not just the paragraphs above, which we asked them to dash off due to the number of e-mails coming in wondering about the edition (, but many other features. They've got the edition pretty much mapped out. You won't want to miss it.


This piece is written by Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix, Kat of Kat's Korner, Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man, Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz, Ruth of Ruth's Report (with us in spirit), Marcia of SICKOFITRADLZ, Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends and Wally of The Daily Jot. Unless otherwise noted, we picked all highlights. Illustration is the movie poster for The Hurt Locker just opened in Los Angeles and New York and opens July 10th in San Francisco, Dallas, Chicago, Atlanta, Austin, Oahu, Portland, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, San Diego, Minneapolis, Denver, Toronto and DC.

Hurt Locker

"I Hate The War" -- Most requested highlight of the week. C.I. remembers Farrah Fawcett.

"Gay and Lesbian Pride Month," "Farrah, LGBT pride month," "Stonewall and Beyond," "Pillow Talk," "Gay and Lesbian Pride Month," "Marge Maloney & Minnie Bruce Pratt, Glen Ford," "Not interested in Free Speech Radio News tonight," "Kenneth J. Theisen, Boston Phoenix,"
"Out FM""Sandra Bullock, John Kass" and "Roey Thorpe's a liar, a damn liar" -- June is Gay and Lesbian Pride Month and that's some of the community coverage last week.

"You water plants, you don't feed them questions" and "THIS JUST IN! WHITE HOUSE HAS PLANT!" -- Cedric and Wally cover Barry O's stage managed 'press' 'conference.'

"Bully is . . . petulance" -- Isaiah reaches into the archives to provide this classic from 2005.

"3 Bean Salad in the Kitchen" -- It's summer and Trina's readers are focused especially on foods they can fix for their children who are out of school due to summer.

"Blogging," "Farrah and childhood memories," "Comics, the disgusting Laura Flanders," "Naoki Urasawa's Monster" and "Out FM" -- Ruth is in Japan and Ann continues to cover for her. Ruth will return to blogging after July 4th. Ann has stated that when Ruth gets home she might need some time to adjust and get back into the groove and, if that's the case, Ann is happy to grab a few more days. Ann will also be subbing for Mike when he takes a week's vacation. Trina left for Hawaii yesterday and while she's on vacation, Jess will be filling in for her.

"Iraq snapshot," "Iraq snapshot," "Senate Foreign Relations Committee" and "Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity" -- C.I. and Kat report on Congressional hearings they attended.

"the laughs keep coming with gordo!," "gordon brown on the ropes," "gordon brown, wonder woman" and "the do-nothing gordo brown" -- Rebecca continues her coverage of Gordon Brown's slow self-destruction.

"Perv on the bench" & "THIS JUST IN! PERV IN THE ROBE!" -- what happens when you put porn addict Clarence Thomas on the bench? You get the sole vote in support of strip searching young girls.

"Sandra Bullock number one at the box office" -- Instead of a comic, Isaiah did an illustration last week to note Sandra Bullock's triumph.

"DMZ: The Hidden War," "gordon brown, wonder woman," "Naoki Urasawa's Monster," "Re-Gifters," "G.B. Trudeau Talk to the Hand!," "Heroes Volume Two," "Mark Evanier's Mad Art" and "Warren Ellis' No Hero, ACLU" -- Tuesday theme posts on comics.
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